Amy Zhao graduated with a Chemical Engineering bachelor of science degree in 2018. She chose a major that helped her explore her STEM interests and a writing minor that helped her discover and share her family’s story.
Here is Amy’s Northeastern pathway…
Amy chose the Writing minor because she wanted her non-engineering courses to be only ones she knew she would enjoy.
“English was a good subject of mine, but when I graduated high school, I was, like, I’m done writing essays! I’m gonna be an engineer. Then I came to Northeastern, and I missed reading and writing. I didn’t think my engineering education could satisfy me on its own.”
Writing Theories and Methods course
“To sum it all up, my Writing minor package covered creative writing, research, and the mechanics of writing.”
Amy found her personal writing to be the most impactful work in the minor.
“My last project for Creative Nonfiction was a multimedia project, so I recorded audio of a conversation with my parents about their experiences in China during the Cultural Revolution. I edited it so it was kind of a mini podcast that went along with an essay. It was particularly impactful because I’d never had that conversation with my parents before.”
The following summer, with a grant from the University Scholars Program, Amy traveled to China and created a 3-episode podcast about her family.
“College is more than just the classes you take. It’s definitely your personal identity formation as well. It’s been really important to me. What do I care about? I couldn’t have gotten to that question before asking myself, Who am I? That is a question I’ll keep asking myself, right? But it’s something that I needed to ask in college in order to figure out. Then, OK. This is what I care about. In what way am I going to pursue these things?”
Amy found that the skills she was honing in her Writing minor classes made her a better technical writer.
“I really value effective technical communication, and we don’t talk about it enough [in the major]. Something that was cool about my Style and Editing class was that Professor Beth Britt taught us about writing concisely, and my final project for that class was actually revising a lab report that I had done, and rewriting it in a concise and organized way.”
Amy sees a career in teaching in her future. Her letters of recommendation for a Fulbright to teach English came from Department of English faculty, including her supervisor at the Northeastern Writing Center, where Amy worked for a year.
“I wanted a part-time job that wasn’t related to engineering. I saw the writing center opportunity, and I was, like, Oh, this looks fun, so I started working there. I really liked it. I particularly enjoyed working with international students in the Writing Center. It’s fun for me to, at the end of a tutoring session, switch into Mandarin and chat a bit. It’s a fun way to connect with people over their writing.”
Following her Fulbright assistantship teaching English in Thailand, Amy joined Apex for Youth, a mentoring and educational resource for Asian and immigrant youth in New York City, as a program coordinator in fall 2019.
“Something that I’ve learned in both my teaching and tutoring experiences is how to ask good questions. Students just want to know the answers, right? But how do you ask probing questions that point them towards actually understanding the concept?”
Northeastern Department of English